• 23 Jul 2014 /  Reviews

    MR ICE CREAM MAN

    1991/18/66m

    Director/Writer: Mack Hail / Writer: Jim Mills / Cast: Mack Hail, Jim Mills, Cindy Reed, Henry Weckesser, DeVonn Carral, Alisha Lobato.

    Laughter lines: “If you get married, can I have a gun?”

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    This strange little film only clocks in at an our and six minutes (on PAL, at least), and was shot in Las Vegas sometime in the early 90s, with no concrete answer.

    Pre-dating the similar Clint Howard flick by a few years, it tells the oh-so-short story of a suburb plagued by a growing number of missing children. What the detective trying to teach the local kids stranger danger doesn’t know is that the goofy-but-creepy local ice cream vendor is the one behind it.

    With a Halloweeney beginning that has a trio of kids walking around the leafy ‘burb while the ice cream truck slowly cruises by, you’d be forgiven for high hopes. Meanwhile, the detective asks out the big sister of a kid who we just know is going to cross paths with Mr Ice Cream Man sooner or later. Probably at his upcoming birthday party.

    Cheapness aside, things don’t look as bad as they might, with writer/director/star Hail doing the best job as the creepy killer, who lures naive kiddies to their doom, selectively ignoring any subtext about what he might be doing to them, even taking a break from his usual schtick to murder a teenage babysitter who mocks him.

    So short that it’s all over before you get too restless, but the killer ice cream dude sub-sub-genre is still untapped for a genuinely good outing.

    Blurb-of-interest: Hail wrote and directed Switch Killer and was in Carnage Road – which is a contender for worst film ever.



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  • 19 Jul 2014 /  Reviews

    KUCCH TO HAI

    2003/12/142m

    Translation: There Must Be Something

    “This winter a chill will run down your spine…”

    Directors: Anil V. Kumar & Anurag Bosu / Writers: Rajeev Jhaveri, Anuraag Praparna, Umesh Shukla & Sameer (song lyrics) / Cast: Tusshar, Esha Deol, Yash Tonk, Natassha, Ashay Chitre, Vrajesh Hirjee, Kusumit Sana, Rishi Kapoor, Johny Lever.

    Body Count: 7

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    To sound like some racist asshole – I can’t tell this film and fellow Hindi slasher Sssshhh… (also from 2003) apart. I’ll make the excuse that it’s been years since I’ve seen either, but notes from the occasion suggest this is the lesser of the two projects.

    As that other film, and blatant Nightmare on Elm Street rip off Mahakaal (1993), a whole lotta Kucch to Hai is recycled material from North American slasher films of the post-Scream boom. It’s a Bollywood trip down memory lane…

    Beginning with an almost shot-for-shot rip-off of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s confessional dream from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, we quickly move into flashback territory and the story of how college kids Karan and Tanya fell in love, punctuated with ear-melting pop songs and love ballads, as is prerequisite in Indian cinema, even in genres as diverse as horror.

    There’s a lot of this…

    *

    All of this stuff takes an HOUR. SIXTY MINUTES. At this point, Tanya takes the blame for Karan’s exam faux pas, risking a failure for herself, and thereby prompting a group of her friends to sneak into the creepy Professor Bakshi’s home to change the grade on her paper. However, their mini-heist is interrupted when the Prof comes home and, during their escape, they find his dead, virtually mummified wife in the basement, and duly run him over with their van as they make their getaway. Three years later, the group recongregate at the wedding of two of their friends at a ski lodge and find the party crashed by a figure in a black mack who dons a curved blade.

    There’s little attempt to disguise the fact that Kucch To Hai unashamedly lifts its entire plotting from the original Last Summer flick, detouring via another shot-for-shot recreation of the killer-in-the-backseat opening from Urban Legend, albeit with a slightly different outcome and the theme from Mission: Impossible replacing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ as the song on the radio!!!

    A scene stolen from Scream 3 sneaks in once the stalking kicks off in the last twenty minutes, with very little bloodshed and a confusing unmasking twist at the finish line. It’s a tough race as the film grinds on relentlessly towards the two-and-a-half hour mark, taking pauses from the horror for its musical interludes, and far more concerned with the developing love triangle between the main characters.

    …and not much of this

    *

    Western audiences will be nothing short of aghast at the stylings, with a veritable rainbow of colour and overdramatic camera work to accentuate the drama, so it’s not possible to tell how technically good the film is compared to other exports from its home country without a good base knowledge of Indian cinema – which I don’t have.

    Both dialogue and songs are subtitled, although the actors occasionally cross over into English to make their points.



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  • 15 Jul 2014 /  VIP's of Slasherdom

    While sometimes I wish I was a domestic pet, it’s pretty cool being a human, as a lot of humans are awesome, even those in cheap-ass slasher flicks.

    Take Wendy, for instance, the Queen Bitch in Prom Night (played excellently by Eddie Benton/Anne Marie Martin), who stalks the halls of Hamilton High almost as aggressively as the film’s killer. Her mission: Destroy Kim Hammond! She’s pretty much Chris Hargensen (of Carrie) Mk. II.

    “Oh, shut up!”

    *

    Missive: Humiliate prom king and queen Kim and (ex-boyfriend) Nick, ruining Prom Night for all! No buckets of pig-blood this time.

    Attitude: BAD. Wendy tells a changing room full of classmates: “You’re all pathetic!” and plays hardball during a confrontation with good-girl Kim, uttering the infamous line used in all four original PN movies: “It’s not who you go with, it’s who takes you home.”

    In her case, the coroner.

    Why we love her: Her unrelenting thirst for nasty vengeance and her epic chase scene through the corridors of the school, where she almost out final girl’s Jamie Lee Curtis.

    Wendy, though you died and in life were a pain in the ass, you are the first inductee to the VeVo VIP’s of Slasherdom hall of whatever.
     



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  • 11 Jul 2014 /  Reviews

    WOLF CREEK 2

    2013/18/107m

    “Mick’s back with a few days to kill.”

    Director/Writer: Greg McLean / Writers: Steve Topic, Helen Leake, Aaron Sterns / Cast: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn, Philippe Klaus, Shane Connor, Ben Gerrard, Gerard Kennedy, Annie Byron.

    Body Count: 17

    Laughter Lines: “Mick Taylor’s the name! Pig shooter and general fuckin’ outback legend.”

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    John Jarratt’s inimitable looney toon Mick Taylor is back for Round Zwei after successfully evading capture or identification over the events of the first film.

    Beginning well – as so many of these pictures tend to – with the grisly double-slaying of a couple of asshole traffic cops (one of whom used to be in Neighbours) who pick on the wrong motorist, it’s soon back into familiar territory with a couple of young backpackers – German couple Katarina and Rutger – who hitchhike to Wolf Creek during the tip of their lives. And deaths.

    Here, Wolf Creek 2 openly misleads us a good half hour into the film, they finally meet Mick, who narrowly missed capturing them earlier. It’s the Psycho trick and our supposed leads are gruesomely done away with. Really gruesomely in the case of Rutger, as Mick keeps Katarina around with the intention of enslaving her back at his hub. She stirs after what we can assume is a mercifully off-screen rape scenario, and sees Mick dissecting her boyfriend, genitals n’ all!

    Katarina escapes and stumbles into the path of lone-British tourist Paul (Corr), who picks her up and finds himself caught up in the terror as Mick now has him in his crosshairs. Wolf Creek 2 switches from channeling Psycho to Duel. After escaping by the skin of his teeth (Katarina was not so fortunate), Paul is now chased down a lonely highway after Mick commandeers a massive rig. Next, he is carless and on foot in the desert until he lands on the doorstep of an outback couple who feed him, only for Mick to come knocking again.

    This cat n’ mouse tomfoolery lasts just over an hour into the film and despite it’s familiarity, and the surreal kangaroo bit, is anything but boring. In fact I had visions of a four-star event here, wondering what all the online moaning was about.

    It was about the final act.

    I won’t go into too much detail, but Mick gets Paul back to his lair and so unfolds one of the weirdest scenes I’ve seen in a slasher film. There are limericks, sing-alongs, a bizarre game of Q&A, and then then obligatory chance of escape, where Paul finds himself in the labyrinthian tunnels of Mick’s place, all packed with bodies in various states of decomp. Then the very end… well, why? is the only question remaining.

    The personality shift in the first film seemed likely, as the good Samaritan’s real intentions became clear. This time, Mick is in full Freddy Krueger mode (albeit with Elvis hair), all that’s missing is the sweater and the scars. He has a cocky quip for every eventuality and is endlessly chipper, underscoring his ‘based on actual events’ serial killer with a cheesiness that hasn’t graced a body count movie since the early-90s.

    That there are so many bodies found is also a tad groan-inducing: With so many missing backpackers, where are the cops? No outback loon could ever hope to be so successful in abducting, overpowering, and imprisoning this many tourists without being detected. It just makes things look tacky in a sub-Texas Chainsaw, Wrong Turn-sequel way.

    The silver lining is that Jarratt is excellent in the role (if a little too chatty), and McLean continues to wring the outback setting for all its agoraphobic-inducing fear: There really is no where to hide. Corr is good as the put-upon hero and the doomed German couple evoke a naive sweetness which makes it hard to watch them killed off so brutally.

    Rogue remains McLean’s best horror effort, while his potential is still on form with the first hour of this, it’s just a shame it the floor collapses beneath it where it counts to most. Hoping for Wolf Creek 3 to feature a girl (!) who kicks his fucking arse.

    Blurbs-of-interest: Jarratt was in Next of Kin and Needle.



  • 07 Jul 2014 /  Reviews

    SCARECROW

    2013/18/83m

    “It’s not a myth. It’s not a legend. It’s a warning.”

    Director/Writer: Sheldon Wilson / Writer: Rick Suvalle / Cast: Lacey Chabert, Robin Dunne, Nicole Munoz, Brittney Wilson, Carlo Marks, Reilly Dolman, Richard Harmon, Julia Maxwell, Jerry Wasserman.

    Body Count: 13

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    The term ‘SyFy Original’ packs more terror than the cumulative scares of all the movies the channel has produced. Almost.

    In an infuriating turn, Scarecrow began surprisingly well and, for a brief naive second, I thought “Hey, maybe they’ve finally struck gold!” The clanging of the pick was sadly just lame old aluminium, neigh gold here. #sadface.

    In its favour, Scarecrow features a lot of actors from other lesser-known slasher flicks and wastes no time in cutting to the chase. A quick teen-couple slashening occurs at ye olde Miller farm and unleashes the spirit of the titular villain, just in time for the local town’s Scarecrow Festival.

    Don’t get your hopes up. In town, another high school detention puts another pack of assorted stereotypes onto a school bus with their handsome young teacher. Out to the farm they go to help move the scarecrow back to town. This development sires the following ponderances:

    • Does it take nine people to move one scarecrow?
    • Aren’t detentions customarily served inside the school?

    Scarecrow doesn’t care for such trivialities. It also doesn’t care to explain what the kids have done, though something about naughty photos of their (now dead) classmates appearing online is muttered – but it’s difficult to believe they all did this together as they don’t seem to get along.

    At the farm, a clearly here-for-the-cheque Lacey Chabert turns up, the last of the Miller family who can no longer afford to keep the farm going. Just fifteen minutes into the film, kids are being attacked by an unseen force.

    They barricade themselves inside and find that mythically-cursed scarecrow is very much alive and well, and wants them dead. Actually, it wants Lacey Chabert dead, but anyone else will do in the meantime.

    As the action kicks off so quickly, Scarecrow soon becomes a bit tedious as numbers are depleted and the surviving members of the group move from house to car to woods to neighbouring farm back to woods and so on…

    Points are gained for the surprisingly good FX work of the scarecrow itself, a jet-black liquorice-looking viney chap, who can come out of the ground, even hide inside bodies… They’re lost, however, for strange choices of characters who outlast others and, more crucially, Lacey Chabert wiping her blood on a herd of cows and saying “rather you than me”! No, Lacey, no. Save the cows.

    It’s one of those films where the villain only wants ONE person dead, but said person naturally resists, and so everyone else around them has to die!

    Things began with a fair bit of focus on the requisite drop-outs who we expect to live for most of the film and then die horribly. But no, again here Scarecrow fucks with us: They go really early, totally off-camera, without any of the expected comeuppance these types of characters normally suffer.

    Another character acts so shadily that I was waiting for them to be revealed to be some sort of conduit for the scarecrow. While this person eventually showed another side of themselves, it was something totally different and disappointing.

    In summary, a good looking, well made film, but one that shoots its load too early and expects us to hang around enjoying the afterglow. And the cow-thing can’t be forgiven.

    Lacey Chabert was in the Black Christmas remake; Robin Dunne was in American Psycho II: All-American Girl; Nicole Munoz was the little girl heroine in The Tooth Fairy; Brittney Wilson was in Scar 3D; Jerry Wasserman was in Christina’s House.


     

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